Gonsoulin would normally have spent $40,000-$50,000 on a new blade to do dirt work around the farm. Or he could noodle out a design in his head, as he did recently. To make the blade, he cut a metal pipe in half. The blade was too rounded, however, so he laid the pipe on ground and “crawled” on top of it with a dozer “which opened it up. Sure enough it worked. We had what we wanted. It works real well behind a 240-horsepower tractor. I went out and got a piece of scrap pipe, cut it out, bought a little steel, and put it together for probably $15,000. So there's $15,000 or more that’s in my pocket, not someone else’s.”

Gonsoulin also built a tool that helps him minimize tillage when taking out old sugarcane rows. “We haven’t plowed in 10 years, and we stay on the same row. The tool will break up the stubble and hip it back together in one pass.”

While it could take weeks for Gonsoulin to describe how each unique piece of equipment in his shop yard came to be, he points out that innovation can come at a cost, another reason why local job shops are important.

“The time it takes to build an implement removes managing time for your crop. Whenever you start building something, it requires a thought process. It’s tough when you’re committed to a project, and you’re distracted by having to spray for insects. On the farm this size, you had better have your act together.”

When a good plan comes together, the result is gratifying. On a recent day, Ronnie and his son, Keven were discussing which field the modified vegetable tractor needed to spray next. “I wish we had two of them” Keven said.

Sounds like another winter project for the Gonsoulins.